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 Black Saints – April

April 4 – St. Benedict the African

St. Benedict the African was born a slave near Messina, Italy. He was freed by his slavemaster and became a solitary.  He eventually settled with other hermits at Montepellegrino. St. Benedict the African was made superior of the community.  When he was about thirty-eight, Pope Pius IV disbanded communities of solitaries and St. Benedict the African became a Franciscan lay brother and the cook at St. Mary's convent near Palermo. He was appointed, against his will, superior of the convent when it opted for the reform, though he could neither read nor write. After serving as superior, he became novice master but asked to be relieved of this post and return to his former position of cook. St. Benedict the African's holiness, reputation for miracles, and his fame as a confessor brought hordes of visitors to see the obscure and humble cook. He died at the convent, was canonized in 1807, and is the patron of those from the African diaspora in the United States. His feast day is April 4th. St. Benedict the African was the first African to be canonized through the regular canonical process.

April 12 – St. Zeno
(Bishop of Verona, Italy, theological writer, d. 371) A native of Africa, he was named bishop in 361 and proved an ardent opponent of Arianism. He promoted discipline among the clergy and in liturgical life. St. Zeno also built a cathedral, and founded a convent. He wrote extensively on the virgin birth of Christ and other theological matters. He was the subject of numerous legends.